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Louis Kealoha likely to find it hard to visit wife in prison

Convicted former Police Chief Louis Kealoha likely will find it difficult to visit his wife in federal prison, where former Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha is awaiting sentencing after the couple and two Honolulu Police Department officers were found guilty last week on corruption and obstruction charges.

“It has to be arranged. It takes a while to get him on the list,” Katherine Kealoha’s remaining defense attorney, Earle Partington, said Tuesday. “The government is going to object because he’s a co-defendant.”

Partington said he visited Kealoha at the federal detention center near Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on Saturday and that “she was in a good mood and we even laughed a little” about unrelated cases, Partington said.

“I was surprised at how well she’s doing,” Partington said.

On Thursday a federal jury unanimously convicted the Kealohas, HPD officer Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen and HPD Lt. Derek Wayne Hahn on each of four felony counts of conspiracy and three felony counts of obstruction. They face a maximum of 20 years in prison for obstruction convictions and up to five years for conspiracy convictions.

Only Katherine Kealoha was ordered into custody after a federal prosecutor called her “a walking crime spree.”

U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Michael Seabright ordered her held until her scheduled sentencing in October, saying at a hearing Friday that he had “no doubt about Ms. Kealoha’s attempt to obstruct justice. She made a determined and consistent effort to have an innocent man incarcerated.”

The Kealohas used their positions to stage the theft of a mailbox at their Kahala home in order to frame Katherine Kealoha’s uncle in an effort to cover up stealing thousands of dollars from her grandmother.

She also faces two additional trials: one for bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and obstruction of an official proceeding in connection with a home mortgage loan application; and for conspiracy to distribute and dispense oxycodone and fentanyl, along with other drug-related charges.

On Tuesday her court-appointed attorney, Cynthia Kagiwada, filed a motion in U.S. District Court to be removed from Kealoha’s case.

In her motion, Kagiwada cited “an irretrievable breakdown in the attorney-client relationship, which cannot be reconciled.”

Kagiwada’s motion was just more than one page long. She wrote that her effort to withdraw from defending Kealoha “is made in the interest of justice.”

Kagiwada’s motion also brought out into public some of the bad feelings that had been brewing inside the defense team, Partington said.

Kagiwada served her motion to each of the eight prosecutors and defense attorneys — but not to her own co-counsel, Partington.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” Partington said. “She didn’t serve me. I’m an attorney in the case, and she’s supposed to serve me. She excluded me from all the conferences. “

The rift with Kagiwada began as soon as Partington joined the defense team, just as the prosecution was preparing for closing arguments.

Unlike Kagiwada, Partington is being paid by Katherine Kealoha’s mother. That’s when the bad feelings between Kealoha’s two attorneys began, Partington said.

“She was very angry that I was involved in the case,” Partington said of Kagiwada. “Honestly, Katherine hired me because she wasn’t happy with the representation. Cynthia was very unhappy with that.”

“I had no idea this motion was coming, no idea whatsoever,” Partington said.

Partington said he expects to visit Kealoha at the federal detention center again, “in the next day or two.”

And Partington insisted that he is sticking with his client.

“I’m still on board until the end,” Partington said.

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